Plot: Eileen (Nina Foch) is on a late night walk when she happens upon a violent scene, as two men are beating down another man. The victim was pulled out of a taxi and just before he was stabbed to death, Eileen’s screams spooked the criminals and the man’s life was saved. But as it turns out, this event was all just a dream and Eileen wakes up in a hospital bed. As eerie and realistic as her vision was, she is even more shocked when the man from her dream is standing by her bed when she wakes up. Barry (William Wright) is very real and while he is taken back by her dream, the two strike up a bond and even a little romance. Before that romance can blossom, Barry is assigned to leave on a top secret military mission, only he is attacked by two men before he can, only to be saved by Eileen’s screams. In the wake of Eileen’s dream coming true, what will become of the romance between these two and more importantly, the crucial mission Barry had been tasked with?
Entertainment Value: Escape in the Fog is a terrific movie, a lean, efficient film noir that hits all of the desired beats. The narrative is brisk, but well written and has twists, interesting characters, and even a supernatural tease or two, all wrapped with the film noir trimmings genre fans want. At just over an hour, the movie runs tight and has no real filler, it makes every minute count and despite the short duration, provides good depth and development. So this never feels rushed in the least, which given how well the movie works, is a real testament. The film’s atmosphere pulls you in and the visuals are well executed, with the requisite film noir shadows and deep contrast, especially in the bridge sequences. The fog rolling across the bridge as Eileen witnesses the attack is a powerful, stylish set piece, to be sure. I think this one has all the elements a genre fan could want, all put into action in skilled, efficient fashion, with a good cast and a real sense of visual flair. As such, Escape in the Fog is easily recommended to anyone with even a casual interest in film noir.
This is often considered a b tier film noir, but the performances don’t line up with the usual b movie expectations. I think the cast is quite good in Escape in the Fog, with strong efforts that have that film noir texture, but don’t come off as simply going through the motions. Nina Foch has the best performance in the ensemble, thanks in part to how much development her character is given. I wish the mental health angle was better explored, but just having it established helps color her performance, while the ESP is just icing on the cake. Foch has great screen presence and she commands attention when she is present, making every scene count here. William Wright is also capable here and he has good chemistry with Foch, which helps the potential romance thread come off as believable. The cast also includes Otto Kruger and Shelley Winters (in a small role), while Budd Boetticher directed the picture.
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